Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta bird. Mostrar todas las entradas
Mostrando las entradas con la etiqueta bird. Mostrar todas las entradas

sábado, 29 de octubre de 2016

The phoenix

   The majestic bird rose above the tea plantation and flew very high into the sky. The people that had been working in the cave where it had been sleeping for thousands of years, ran towards the exit in the hope of catching a glimpse of the animal flying free in the sky. No one really understood why or how the creature had survived living in a cave, apparently, for so long. It wasn’t common for a bird to live in such a place but, then again, it wasn’t no ordinary bird. According to the legend, that red feathered animal was the mythical phoenix.

 As the bird appeared to defy all laws of gravity by flying as fast as a supersonic airplane and as high as a weather balloon, the people below began considering the options: they could try to capture the creature but they had no real way of doing so. If the legend was true, such a fantastic bird would have the strong of a thousand oxen and its screeching sounds could tear down the roughest wood. At least that’s what it said on the many manuscripts kept by the monks in several temples of the region. But should such ancient scriptures be taken into account?

 It was well known that people exaggerated their fear when they felt threatened. They wrote tales of the most horrible things in order to surprise others by saying, “we endured this” or “we vanquished this”. Maybe the phoenix that was now hovering over the plantation was just like any other bird, just much more beautiful and graceful, and also very big and beautifully garnished by nature. In any case, most people agreed that capturing it would not be good at all for anyone. Their gods may punish them for those actions.

 Most of the population of the region consisted of peasants. They grew tea and rice and some other valuable goods that they tried to trade with other regions. But the economy all over was very hard for everyone and competition was rough from places that were much more advances, being able to produce tons more of tea leafs and rice grains. They were too far from any modern science and too close to ancient traditions that prevented them from going too far into the future. It was a very complicated situation indeed.

 The bird descended and landed on top of one of the tea bushes. The workers, who had been there all day, watched the creature with expectation, finding it very odd that such a big bird could pose itself on such a small bush and not fall to the ground. They believed it to be the magic of the phoenix and many of them started praying to it. As the sun sunk in the horizon, the bird’s feathers started glowing with a reddish hue that made look as if it was on fire. No… It was on fire. It became engulfed in it and suddenly it became a pile of ashes on the dark doil.

 The wind carried away the ashes and no one in the vicinity was able to say a word for some time after that. They had been witnessed of something beautiful and also very confusing. The people that had been digging in the nearby cave arrived just as a gust of wind cleaned the soil from any residue of the bird and when they asked what happened, no one could really explained what they had seen. It was only the next day that a young boy told them they had seen the bird burn, as the legend said it could happen at any moment.

 The problem with the people of the cave was that they were not from those parts. They came from the capital, saying they wanted to investigate the cage, which they thought was filled with uranium which they need to build a power plant not very far from there. At least that was what they said once and again, every time someone dared to ask why they had a arrived out of the blue and not years before, when the energy crisis was in its peek. They never really answered in a very straightforward way. There was always something elusive about them.

 After the bird burned, most of them left for the capital. Only one remained behind. He sealed the cave and stood guard there every single day. He lived in a small tent built by the entrance of the cavernous place. Apparently, they wanted no one to go there because they thought it was a place worth protecting but who knew why? Maybe they thought the phoenix had laid eggs or maybe they assumed the bird would be reborn in the same place it had been living for, apparently, a very long period of time. Their reasons were unclear.

 The people of the mountains went back to work as normal, grabbing tea leafs and cultivating their rice in the old fashioned way they had always done it. Some of them had begun to resent the government: it had never made any presence to help them in the past and out of nowhere it had send those people and now they couldn’t even get into their own cave, where they sometimes mined for precious stones that could give a family some more food to feed their children and the elders. Sadly, being farmers didn’t mean they could live at their heart’s content.

 Many of them had not eaten the meat of any animal in a good while and the children had no idea of what a sweet fruit tasted like. The only thing growing around them that could be similar were wild berries but they were always really tangy and many species were poisonous. So their diet was based on rice and tea, accompanied by a handful of vegetables each farmer grew in their private orchard. They were very careful with them because it wasn’t much.

 A year passed when the government, finally, decided to retire the man they had left in front of the cave. They claimed to have been unable to find uranium there so the decision was to let the cave in the hands of the people that had taken care of it for so long. It was a bunch of nice words but they all knew the truth: they had given up on the phoenix making its appearance once again, just as the farmers. No one thought it would come back again but everyone believed the bird still lived somewhere in the vicinity or maybe far in to the higher mountains.

 Children did many drawings of the bird and people started talking more freely about what they had felt when they has seen the bird flying over them. They now could do it because they didn’t feel the pressure of the government on their backs. They could say whatever they wanted, just as they had thought, without any restriction. That was the good thing of living ins such a remote area: those people were actually free, at least in a way most people would find alluring. Besides, they were happy despite everything.

 The celebration of the tea harvest that year was simply over the top. Artists from other regions were invited over and they showed everyone how elegant and hilarious they could be. There were also dances and music and many people wore costumes. The most magnificent thing was the construction of a huge phoenix made out of wood. It had been painted red by the children and built patiently by farmers after the working hours were over. They wanted to thank the creature for such a great year for their crops. They truly believed it was because if it.

 The happiness was contagious. Everyone laughed that night, celebrating with simple joy. They were glad to be who they were and the truth was that they didn’t want to become anything else. Most of the people day would never accept a trip to the capital or changing in any way the lifestyle they had enjoyed for the last hundred years. They respected each other, they took care of one another and they believed in the same core principles that ruled over most aspects of their lives. One of those was the belief that everything was possible.

 Late, when the party was about to end and dawn approached; they saw the bird flying over their crops and above the party, released what seemed like sparks. Everyone saw the bird with delight, thanking it for everything good that year. They would have another great year after that and for many more because they had been blessed by the phoenix, which had finally found the perfect spot on Earth to live in peace and learn from the good things humans had to offer.

sábado, 15 de octubre de 2016

Change of pace

   Nicole had been watching birds professionally for about five years. Before that, she had been working in some laboratory where she helped create many types of perfume. But after so many years, she had grown very annoyed by the smells and also the tense environment in the workplace. Not many people would think that working creating the world’s most delicious scents would be tense but it was and she wanted out but didn’t know how to do it. She couldn’t just quit because she could lose many benefits but working there longer was not an option.

 As she decided what would be her alternative path, Nicole decided to take advantage of a two week paid vacation leave that she hadn’t used during her time working for the lab. She thought the best place to go was a quiet one, where people would not be all around her asking things and talking all the time. Nicole certainly did not appreciate that at all. She looked it up in the Internet and soon discarded going to a grand European capital or to one of those luxurious seaside hotels. Too many people in both. Instead, she chose a retreat in the forest, more private and adequate to her needs.

 Nicole arrived a Friday afternoon to the retreat and realized she had chosen the right place to go and relax. Even the staff of the hotel was gentle and not scandalous. The man in the hotel’s reception told her that they owned almost thirty cabins all around the forest and that they were all connected through dirt paths. A young man grabbed her suitcase and put it in a golf cart and helped her to her assigned cabin. It was beautiful, very small but very cozy at the same time. She had asked for a one bedroom one and it was just perfect.

 It had a small bedroom, a very modern bathroom and a living room with a small kitchen space, which worked on electricity. There were not television sets, radios, phones or any type of Wi-Fi connection in any of the rooms. The only place from which a person could do any of those things was the reception structure. As the boy left after leaving her suit case in the cabin, Nicole checked and realized she was really disconnected from the world: her cellphone had no signal whatsoever. She finally felt free and seemed very excited for what may happen.

 As she had arrived in the afternoon, it wasn’t a good idea to wander around the forest, as darkness would be upon her soon. Instead, she decided to use the bathtub and enjoy it thoroughly with hot water and the relaxing sound of the wind among the trees. After that bath, it was very easy for Nicole to just get into bed and fall asleep in a very short time. She never did that back home but she felt so tired from the road trip to the hotel that she fell asleep right away. She had a dreamless sleep that lasted for several hours.

 When she woke up, it was ten past ten. When she saw the time in her watch, she got scared for a moment but then remembered she was on a holiday and not working in the laboratory. She could sleep for as many hours as she wanted and waking up at six in the morning was not mandatory anymore. She decided to check out the kitchen and, just as the brochure said, you could pay for it to be fully packed with things from day one of your stay. So she decided to cook herself a scrambled egg breakfast with some orange juice.

 As she ate it all in a small table by a window, she heard the forest: there was no silence but a magnificent amount of sound coming from every direction. She wondered if that would help her think or would come against her at some point. Nicole decided to take a walk after eating and wandered around the paths for several hours until she realized she didn’t quite now where she was. She had not been smart enough to borrow a map from the reception and asking someone for directions didn’t seem to be a real possibility.

 It was just then when she heard a whistle and the distinctive sound of a photography camera. There was someone near her. She walked around trying to identify the source of the sound but she couldn’t find anyone. Growing a bit desperate, she stepped into some rocks and her feet glided over them ass the moss covering them was very slimy. Nicole stumbled to the ground, hitting her behind hard against the ground and one of her legs being seriously hurt. It wasn’t long before a bearded man, about her age, appeared very close.

 He didn’t ask her anything. He just grabbed her as if she was weightless and carried in a jog to the reception, where they had the infirmary. The doctor there told Nicole she had twisted her ankle but that it wasn’t too bad. She could prevent swelling with a special cream and should prevent movement at all costs. He offered her some crutches to use around but she declined, saying she did feel like she needed them. She would rather enjoy the rest of her stay by just being careful and resting a bit for the next couple of days.

 Nicole wanted to thank the man that had carried her to the doctor but he had left in a huff. Apparently there was something much more important he had to do than checking if the person he carried was all right. Nicole tried not to think a lot about that, instead just been taken to her cabin in a golf cart. There, she decided to rest in bed for a while. When she about to fall asleep, she heard something like a whistle again. She hadn’t solved that mystery before and she wanted to know what was it.

 She stepped out of her cabin once again and tried to hear where the sound was coming from again but there was no more whistling. Instead, she could perfectly hear the wind passing through the trees, which was a very soothing sound. Breathing slowly with her eyes closed, Nicole realized how precious it was to be in a place where the sound of the wind could take you to so many places at once. It was the best experience ever. She had never been in any trip where she could actually distance herself from her life but this time it seemed different.

 The next day, she was lucky enough to stumble upon the man with the beard. She found him reorganizing some things by the main path. Nicole thanked him for his help and tried to shake his hand but he didn’t even look at her. He seemed immersed in something she couldn’t understand. When he finished whatever he was doing, he left the path immediately and started walking towards the deepness of the forest. Not really understanding why, Nicole decided to go after him, almost having to run in order to not to miss him among the trees.

 She finally reached him in a clearing where he sat down on the floor and, with a gesture, asked Nicole to be quiet. He grabbed a camera from his backpack and waited, apparently only hearing the sound of the woods. She heard them too, trying not to make a sound. Then, the man whistled in a very specific manner. When he did, it seemed to be very precise. And it was. Out of nowhere, a flock of small birds flew over the clearing, some of them landing among the dried leaves. The man took several pictures before the birds left.

 When she realized she could speak again, Nicole asked the man how he knew what sound to make in order for them to come and what was he doing in that place. He told her he was a ornithologist, a bird expert and that he was creating a complete catalogue of every bird in the forest. He told Nicole that it was a very difficult job but that it was very rewarding as birds weren’t as selfish and evil as men. He confessed he didn’t really like people. After he said that, he looked Nicole straight in the eye and stretched her hand to hear. His name was Quentin.

 That day, and all the following days in which Nicole had decided to remain in the woods, Quentin would tell her all the tricks to get the best pictures of the birds. He would also take pictures of other animals and of the trees. He found nature fascinating at it most simple. Nicole was so enthralled by all of this that she decided it was time to make her next move. When she came back to the city she quit her job and applied to one in the university to be Quentin’s assistant. The pay was better making perfume but her life felt so much lighter and improved in the forest, in peace.

jueves, 17 de septiembre de 2015


   The bird, magnificent as it was, flew over everyone’s heads and, just before disappearing as it always did, it let out a horrible cry, as if he had been wounded fatally. The cry was heard by every single man and woman that had come to catch it and they felt their hearts skipped a beat as they heard it. Then, the bird disappeared in second, making everyone wonder how much stranger nature could get. All the scientists that had come to the jungle stayed some more days but after a couple of them, they noticed no other bird like that would appear out of nowhere. That one, apparently, had been the last one of its species and now it could be hiding anywhere or maybe even dead. The jungle emptied in no time and paradise went back to be one.

 One of the scientists that had gone to the expedition, a man called Hunter, did not go back home after being in the jungle but instead traveled to several zoos, laboratories and so on in order to investigate. He wanted to know if maybe there was one of those birds in captivity or if anyone at least knew more about it than him. But most people, when explained what he was looking for, thought he was crazy. The creature he described was fantastic, out of some story told from generation to generation and even is account sounded even stranger than the most creative story of them all. He traveled the world for another year but no one knew anything. He gave up and he intended to return home immediately, as there was nothing more to do for him.

 However, he never got home. In the flight over there, he started feeling strange, like there wasn’t enough air. He had gone to the lavatory and it was only when the flight had ended that a flight attendant found him there, asphyxiated in the toilet seat, with a large red feather on top of his head. People thought he might have committed suicide somehow, but the autopsy proved, weeks later, that he had choked because he couldn’t breath. The reasons for that were not known or the origin of the feather, but the tragedy made it to the news and several of his colleagues realized there was something they couldn’t just ignore: the red feather.

 There was a tribe in the region where they had all gone to catch the bird. They had warned the scientist not to enter the jungle as dangers beyond their understanding lived there and could very well be their end. But the scientists thought it was just a folk tale to keep everyone away from the jungle. The tale said that the phoenix lived deep in there, alone always alone and with possession of a great strength and will. The legend said the bird could not be capture or tamed but that it could be befriended in order to find a way out of the jungle, if the person that found it was lost. But if it wasn’t, the bird would put its course on them, a course that would end life in little time.

 Every single person that had been at the jungle the time the phoenix cried, remembered the legend when they saw the news about Hunter. Some of them were openly scared; others dismissed it as a coincidence. A long month passed until there was word of a second victim, this time one of the assistants. She had been found dead in her apartment, apparently also asphyxiated and with a feather on her head. Then, two more deaths followed and the rest of the scientists just knew there was at least some truth to the legend. Now, some thought there was someone killing al of them, blaming them for something that had happened back them. Maybe they had an outbreak of some sort of disease or they just didn’t like foreigners in their lands.

 One of the explorers decided to take the bull by the horns and go back to the jungle where it had all started. The tribe there wouldn’t talk to him because they said foreigners had disrespected their beliefs and advice, which had been given in the best interest of everyone involved. They didn’t want to know anything about all those people ever again and asked to be left alone for good. Overnight, the whole tribe moved and they were not found again until several years later. The explorer attempted to enter the jungle again, to see if there were any answers inside, but that would be a secret for that place to preserve, as the paths had changed and nothing was the same as the last time.

  People kept dying until there were only three people left from the expedition that had discovered the existence of the phoenix. One of them, doctor Stacy Holmes, published a very controversial article where she described the creature and its behavior, what she could see anyway as the encounter had only lasted for a couple of minutes, until the beard cried and disappeared. No one really believed what Holmes had written on her report and the money that she had been granted for investigation was pulled away from her, leaving her to beg for more money to continue her investigation. Stacy was obsessed with the bird, she had been obsessed before too and it was something that hadn’t gone away.

 She was found dead on her bed, at home, asphyxiated as the rest of her peers. The feather rested softly on her head and the place seemed, to the people that came for the body, as some type of mausoleum. It was incredibly peaceful and beautiful somehow. Someone took pictures and they were all over the Internet, talking more about the possibility of a serial killer than about the feather or the ambiance in the place when the men taking the body got there. The remaining two people died in the following weeks. One of them thought it could hide from the curse but it could follow anyone anywhere so they died anyway.

 Back in the jungle, the phoenix appeared again. It floated around freely and was now, again, free to be. Often it would fly over the houses of the tribe that lived nearby, but they wouldn’t see it. It was a lonely creature, so there was almost no way that anyone could find it in the immensity of the world. What people didn’t know was that the bird moved around the globe at will, change its home from a cave on a cliff in China, to a nice nest in a European forest. It even lived among humans, who were too distracted and busy to realize they were so close from something they couldn’t even understand. The phoenix was a creature born several millennia ago, as the planet started to breath life. It was a time of legends and miracles, but a time that no one could remember.

 It had to be said that the cry did kill of those people but not the phoenix itself. He just did what had to be done in order to preserve a little mystery in the world, something that was being lost rapidly to the advancements of technology. The phoenix, being a creature with the capacity to be reborn and to cure every single disease in existence, could be the holy grail of mankind. But the bird knew what humans did with whatever they found out to be of use. They were brutal and did not care about anything except their personal goals, their thirst for financial retribution and for a power that, in the long run, didn’t mean anything.

 The bird cured people, however, when they were lost somewhere in the world. Because it had something many humans had lost long ago, which was compassion. Humans didn’t have it anymore, only showing a shadow of it when they wanted to gain something from behaving like that. Humans, almost all of them, were not sincere anymore and could not be trusted. That had been proven when that large group of them had entered the jungle without the proper respect, without hearing what their own had told them. They were disrespectful and only cared about their personal glory. The phoenix felt everything at that time, it could feel their ambitions and thoughts and the decision to put the course on them was as simple as disappearing and never being seen again.

 True, some humans had seen it and he had not killed them. Those lost souls; men and women that only wanted to go back to their families and be in peace, they wanted nothing more than to be left alone by life and the phoenix respected that. That’s why he helped them with everything he could, ultimately carrying them to the outskirts of the jungle in order for them to be taken care of by the nearby tribe. The bird was compassionate and behaved only in the way survival was meant for it to behave. It didn’t hate anyone or had any remorse either, it was just a pure creation of nature, forgotten by the world and that’s the way it should be forever, until the big change arrived.

lunes, 9 de febrero de 2015

The Age of the Lammergeyers

   Kotor was what we would call a bearded vulture or lammergeyer. What was special about Kotor was the fact that he had an owner, or at least, a human companion, that used him to his advantage. Did not bother the vulture at all as the human always gave him prizes consisting of dead animals, his preferred meal. The bad thing there was that he would rather hunt than eat an already dead prey, but anything was good as long as he was feeding.

 The human used Kotor to survey the mountains. There were a lot of snowy peaks and deep valleys. Also frozen lakes and cold rivers. Kotor surveyed it all and had been trained, for a long time, to look for humans. This proved hard at the beginning because lammergeyers did not really like humans. Granted, they left food everywhere they went, but many of them hunted or chased him for various reasons and that was not acceptable.

 Kotor, however, had been a very young chick when he saw the first human. He didn’t remember if he had been born in the mountains or elsewhere, but he didn’t feel that mattered. The feeling of wind between the feathers was better than any freshly smashed rabbit. It made him feel powerful over all other creatures in those mountains, the fact that he could see them from above. Of course, the land animals were not very thrilled about this and so they tried never to encounter any lammergeyers when hunting.

 This was silly as Kotor never hunted with another bird. To be honest, he didn’t really have any good relations with other animal, except the humans. He was sure that wasn’t a very good thing but the truth was all other birds were scared of him. They even treated him like a pet, saying he worked for the humans than only wanted to invade their mountains and drive them all out. It wasn’t unheard of that every so often, a man would be hit on the head by rocks or bones thrown by lammergeyers. Of course, human thought this was an innocent action but Kotor knew better.

 His job with the two-legged creatures consisted in helping other humans, locating them if they appeared to be in problems. An image of him was stuck on a post in the nearby human settlement. He understood quite soon that it was there to tell the humans to trust him if they ever saw him flying above them when walking the valleys. He knew that if they had blood on their faces or they seemed unusually loud, more than the humans normally were, he had to help them.

 He would normally take something from them and then fly back to the settlement and alert the human called Karma, who would call others, in order to look for the human in distress. They would follow Kotor through the mountains to help. Then Kotor would get his food and could depart in order to fly, hunt, sleep or simply wander around. He thought the humans must have trained others to do the same because it would have been really stupid to make him do all the work by himself.

 What Kotor did not understand was what made the humans penetrate the mountains. Knowing the terrain like few others, the bird knew humans were not properly equipped to live there. Of course, they never stayed, and that was even more incomprehensible. It was like they wanted to suffer on purpose; they wanted to be deprived of food and sometimes companionship, on purpose. It made no sense.

 Kotor envied that from the humans. They were never truly alone and he didn’t understand the one that tried hard to be it. He was alone every single day and it got to be boring. Of course, having someone besides him to compete him was not a very good idea but sometimes he thought it would have been preferable than flying alone so often, not enjoying the rats or rabbits he ate with another vulture.

 One day though, he got to know another lammergeyer. It was a female and, after a few days of courting, he was able to mate with her. They had several eggs and that made Kotor very proud. Due to this happening, he wasn’t as present as before in the human settlement. When he returned after many days of absence, the human he had known wasn’t there anymore. As a matter of fact, no humans were there.

 After checking his young in a tall peak, he decided to fly farther this time in order to know what had happened. He asked other birds that roamed the mountains if they had noticed the disappearance of the humans but most had not noticed it and thought it was better that way because maybe it meant that had left their mountains for good. But Kotor wasn’t pleased with that. He needed to know.

 He flew over the settlement and then followed the course of a river that grew wider and wilder as the terrain began to flatten. He saw many other human towns and cities from above but no trace of the two-legged creatures. Kotor had always thought they were so many, like rats, coming out of every single place. But now they had vanished or maybe they had fled. But why and where?

 Back in the mountains, he informed of his survey to other lammergeyers and convinced them to tell other creatures about it. Of course, they wouldn’t speak with the lesser animals but they agreed to inform the eagles and hawks, as well as some of the land creatures such as wolves and foxes. Many of them had also noticed the disappearance of the humans, specially those that lived from eating the garbage the explorers always left in the valley.

 They all agreed that it was better if no creature left the mountains, at least for now. The humans were not perceptive animals but maybe they had noticed something was wrong and fled because of it. Although not many believed so, it was possible that those creatures knew things they didn’t know. So they decided to do just that, live their lives like they had always done.

 Kotor was surprisingly pleased with this new life. It was a bit weird not to work for the humans but living for hunting and feeding his young, wasn’t bad at all. Yet, he still flew over the human settlement. He didn’t really know why. He didn’t really miss any of them but he had become so attached to them, it was hard not to think about them. Besides, many animals, especially those that used to be hunted, started coming down the mountains to the settlement. Kotor had not realized there was still food there.

 As the lesser animals had not attended the meeting on the mountains, they didn’t know the humans had disappeared or that it was better not to wander too far from their natural environment. They just wanted to eat the free food and in a matter of days, all the food had been eaten. The rats and similar creatures did most of the job and even some foxes and birds had arrived too.

 Kotor, however, never ate anything from that place. He flew over it every so often, but just to check on the place. Many animals had also moved closer to the biggest lake among the mountains. They did not like it before because every human that came into the mountains arrived to that point and camped there for many days. Noisy creatures they were. But now only the wind and the water made sounds and it was perfect.

 Then, one particularly clear day, Kotor noticed something in the horizon. It looked as if the sun had come out again. It was an orange and red glow but it seemed to be increasing in size and the air suddenly felt a bit hotter that it usually was. Kotor landed on a tree and looked at the colour show, that disappeared some time after. Many other animals saw it, and they too went on with their lives, not even thinking what that glow might have been.

 They had no idea that the age of man had finished. The planet had no ruler anymore.